Epiphany 2021

drawing: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, (c) 2021

Hello Dear Ones,

I’d planned to post this holiday greeting and image today on the Feast of the Epiphany with no idea of how violence would manifest in Washington, DC. I hope that you and your household are well, safe, and strong enough. And I pray that you will continue to do what you do to bring about God’s Dream for Humanity.

Today, January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany/Día de los Reyes/Three Kings Day. It commemorates adoration of the Christ Child by foreign magi (royal scholars). We Christians celebrate God’s love for all humanity given to all cultures, ethnicities, races. We also celebrate the diversity of Christ’s Church and the gift of awakenings – “epiphanies” when we see with God’s eyes.

Back in November I began sketching St. Mary singing “The Magnificat” seen through the lens of 2020. I envisioned a Christmas Card with a Black Mary singing for justice with great faith and hope:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

God’s mercy is for those who revere God from generation to generation.

God has shown strength of arm; scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

Bringing down the powerful from their thrones, and lifting up the lowly;

God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

God has helped the servant nation, in remembrance of divine mercy,

according to the promise God made to our ancestors, to Abraham and Sarah,

and their descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46b-55; NRVS adapted)

As I reflected on the text, much resonated with what I’m hearing young women saying today. Thus, “The Hashtag Skirt.” I hope you’ll add your preferences. And if you don’t know these movements, please check them out:

#CoronaHeroes #IntheBigLove #SaytheirNames #nonviolence #halfby2030 #WaterisLife #ParisAccord #AAPISolidarity #StandAgainstHated #Peace #Homefulness #Justice&Mercy #PoliceReform #BlackLivesMatter #ProScience #NoFence #Corona-1619 #GreenNewDeal #GirlPower #LandBack #doctorSusanMoore #LoveWins #NomorestolenSisters #gogreen #EveryVoteCounts #BetheChange #MeToo #Love (some capitalizations changed for visual appeal)

The radiant light/energy waves are inspired by Stevie Wonders’ fabulous album cover for “Songs in the Key of Life” (1976), a source of great spiritual care when I was a young adult.

This is a sacred illustration, a proclamation of faith. I hope there is something here that speaks in a true way for you. May this image be a statement of hope that 2021 will be filled with many epiphanies for us on all levels. God is still speaking. God is still calling us into fullness of being for the well-being of all beings.

In the Big Love,

Kathryn

Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber

Berkeley Chinese Community Church, UCC

Berkeley, CA, USA

P.S. If you’d like, you’re welcome to copy and print the image for personal use, including as a coloring project. However, I ask that you do not reproduce and share without my permission. You are welcome, however, to freely share the link to this page. God bless you and yours. Thank you!

“Blessed in a Wild Place” • Mark 1:4-11 • Epiphany Call to Personal Transformation • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber (c) 2010

worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise, we offer free worship content. We’re exploring format shifts. Bear with us! Take Care!

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Epiphany 2021: God is Still Speaking” God spoke to the magi through a dream to save Jesus

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

Beloved, God calls us into the Wilderness of Awakening.

Beloved, God calls us into the River of Forgiveness.

Beloved, God calls us to rise Blessed and Empowered… too!

Light the Christ Candle

Gathering Song “Shall We Gather by the River” Words and Music: Robert Lowry. Performed by Buddy Greene. (Chalice #701)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

How is it with your soul? Check in with God however your spirit and body wish. It’s okay to enter into God’s presence uncertain to what is happening, opening to what might happen. However you arrive, God will be delighted.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting with God silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Grace is freely given; we cannot make it happen. If we could, it would not be grace. However, we can improve our receptivity to God’s gifts.

This week we remember Jesus humbling himself to John’s ministrations in the River Jordan. Jesus models a pure spirit releasing and being open. While we may not witness the heavens open and God’s voice speak words of direct blessing, there may be times when a “knowing” comes over us and we swell with an inner sense of our beloved-ness. Such a moment of grace is quite holy. Let us cherish God’s grace whenever it comes upon us.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:4-11 (NRSV)

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. John proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Quote from Mechthild of Magdeburg, 13c Germany mystic:

“And God said to the soul: I desired you before the world began. I desire you now, as you desire me.  And where the desires of two come together, there love is perfected.”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Reflection “Blessed in a Wild Place”

John the Baptist was called out of the Temple into the Wilderness to prepare the people for God’s Beloved Son. So, too, we have been called out of our Sanctuaries into our Households to open our hearts to God’s Beloved Ones.

Jesus of Nazareth humbled himself to the waters of the River Jordan and the reinterpreted rituals of his cousin John. So, too, we are to humble ourselves to God’s ambassadors to be spiritually prepared for our future ministries.

The River took what was not needed away. The Heavens offered a Spirit like a Dove bestowing blessing. The heavenly Voice spoke affirming identity, status, and belovedness. So, too, God is working through all Creation to bring the Living Christ into redemptive, relational presence with us.

Now that our religious patterns have been disrupted where are we, as individuals, being called to experience spiritual care? Where are you finding spiritual nourishment? When and where are you safe to be vulnerable and open to new blessings?

I believe one of the strange gifts of this “Stay at Home” time is seeing, more clearly, what truly blesses our souls, especially in times of challenge. This is a time to note the comforting habits we miss AND to acknowledge where and how we are currently being restored and blessed.

This week consider where you have found genuine spiritual uplift these past 9-10 months. Where has God blessed you? Maybe, like Jesus, it has been a “wild” place – a place unlike the holy buildings where you expected to find God’s presence in the past?

Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

(Note: A somewhat related sermon video will be available on YouTube channel “Kathryn Schreiber” before 1/10/2021)

Special Music “Wade in the Water” Traditional African-American spiritual. Performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock. (Chalice #371)

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

This second Sunday of the year, many Christians recall the baptism of Jesus Christ. Let us also pause to remember our baptism through Jesus Christ. All who proclaim Jesus as Christ are connected, eternally. We are part of “The Body of Christ” one of an uncountable number of souls who reside in fellowship throughout all time. What a blessing!

Let us praise God for this everlasting gift. We are “us” because Jesus brought us, in word and action, God’s redeeming love. Hallelujah! Praise God! (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope “Down to the River to Pray” Written by Philip Lawson. Performed by Alison Krauss and Union Station. 2002. https://youtu.be/swOLCLrqBn8

We Pray

Benediction

God is here in our wilderness time.

God is still speaking –

in breaking clouds and diving doves

proclaiming “Beloved” to all who serve.

Let us journey on in this wild place

filled with a truly Holy Spirit

opening to unpredictable new wonders.

Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources:

All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, suspended copyright restrictions early during the coronavirus pandemic. Permission may shift as conditions change. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements.

Online Publishing Date: January 5, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude by offering your support – in action or financial gift – to your church or a church you respect. We really need your support right now – volunteers and funds. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“The First Prayer of 2021”

photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters; taken in Mexico City

“The First Prayer of 2021” written by Rev Kathryn M Schreiber

birds sang the sun up

this first morning of 2021

listening to their joy

I found a new sorrow

the collective silence

of all who died last year

what songs are sung

in Heaven today?

do they grieve with us

here on Earth?

Lord, have mercy upon us.

As of 6:12am GMT 1/1/2021 the World Health Organization reported 1,808,041 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19.

“Paying Homage” • Matthew 2:1-12 • Epiphany Call to Discernment • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

artwork: (c) 1998, Ashley Bryan, “Carol of the Brown King”

worship format and original content: (c) 2020, Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise, we offer free worship content. We’re exploring format shifts. Bear with us! Take Care!

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Carol of the Brown King” Epiphany poem by Langston Hughes illustrated by Ashley Bryan

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

That STAR! That brilliant star! Let us follow Holy Light!

That KING! That frightened king! Let us follow Holy Light!

That BABE! That royal babe! Let us follow Holy Light!

That DREAM! That guiding dream! Let us follow Holy Light! Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

Gathering Song “We Three Kings” Words and music: J H Hopkins. Arranged, recorded, and performed by Nathan Drake.

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

How is it with your soul? Check in with God however your spirit and body wish. It’s okay, too, just to say “Hi!” to God. God’s delighted you are here.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting with God silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Sometimes, God wonderfully interrupts our plans! God offers us new opportunities to realign and change course, something the Magi (Wise Men) knew first hand. Sometimes, God’s grace pours out as a calling to make a significant shift. Maybe God is inviting you to take another road, too? Amen.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Reflection “Paying Homage”

The Wise Ones knew what was true and good and what was not. God spoke to them through their experiences and dreams. They had the wisdom to disobey a dishonest and evil king. They practiced “discernment” – the careful, thoughtful, and spiritual evaluation of circumstances.

As this crazy year 2020 concludes and 2021 arrives with its own challenges the ability to “discern” is even more important. Taking time to deeply reflect on next steps and checking in with God before forging on is critical. Two thousand years ago, three traveling scholars practiced discernment and chose not to tell a corrupt leader where the Messiah was. They protected the life of one who embodied divine presence. Would Christianity exist today if the Magi had informed King Herod of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem?

As the calendar year turns, now is a very good time to look back mindfully and to enter the new year prepared to practice discernment. Please consider setting aside time in early January, maybe during this week, to observe a reflective home-retreat. (see video link below)

God is inviting us to listen carefully to attend the wisdom of our souls and minds, to honor the realities of our bodies and hearts, and to enter the future as Jesus himself might say, “Wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

May God bless you as you discern how to honor God – what God has done for you and what God is calling you and yours into in 2021. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Spiritual Practice: Mindfully Turning the Year

This virtual retreat guides us through intentionally shifting from the old year to the new one. Video may be stopped to expand exercises at any time. Setup home retreat space: quiet and uninterrupted, wear layers, soothing drink, notebook or device for writing, spiritual items of comfort, items for release ritual — small paper to safely burn or two bowls, one with small object like pebbles. Practice includes: • Grounding Prayer • Reflection: What to leave behind? • Ritual: Physical Release • Reflection: What to carry forward? • Ritual: Being Open • Closing Prayer.

Special Music “Do You Hear What I Hear” Words by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne. Performed by Gentri.

We Pray

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

The Magi arrived in Bethlehem bearing three gifts – gold (economic wealth), frankincense (religious devotion), and myrrh (royal anointing) – all extremely valuable items reserved for presentation to royal deities – humans of divine standing. To give an infant this trio of gifts represents the highest value of honor international dignitaries would show a being who embodied God’s presence on earth. Imagine those gifts being given to a child being born in a stable?

On the Feast of Epiphany, (January 6th), we remember the Three Magi’s trip to pay homage to Jesus Christ. They remind us to honor Jesus Christ and to give God the very best and to present our gifts where most needed. (Scholars believe these valuable gifts were used by the Holy Family to purchase their escape to Egypt when King Herod mandated the deaths of all young male children in his cruel efforts to protect his reign as king.) How might we honor God by sharing our gifts this year? (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope “Let There Be Peace on Earth” Music and Lyrics by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson. Arranged by Keith Christopher. Adapted and directed by Sarah Grandpre. Performed by Voices of Hope Children’s Choir. (Chalice #677)

Benediction

Let us take off our crowns and bow down.

Let us freely offer our very best gifts.

Let us praise the Holy One wherever we find him.

Let our souls rejoice with joy and hope!

And may we travel on in peace. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

“Nativity explained: the gifts from the Magi,” Michael Trimmer. ©2013. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/nativity-explained-the-gifts-from-the-magi/35146.htm

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources:

All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, suspended copyright restrictions early during the coronavirus pandemic. Permission may shift as conditions change. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements.

Online Publishing Date: December 30, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local non-profit that uplifts brown and black children and their families. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“Rejoice! All Beings Praise” • Psalm 148 • 1st Sunday of Christmas with Pop-up Praise Pageant • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

Creation fiber art at All Saints Episcopal Church, San Leandro, California

Content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, (c) 2020

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise. A simpler format for a full week!

Preparations

  • In advance, invite folks to prepare outfits/props representing their favorite forms of creation for the Pop-up Praise section. (see A Cosmic Celebration of the Christ’s Birth” below)
  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble other items needed.
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. White is the traditional color of the season of Christ. We are in the season of Christmas until Epiphany – January 6th.

Time for Children of All Ages

No new “Out of the Bag” this Sunday (See “Kathryn Schreiber” YouTube channel for previous recordings)

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

We gather in celebration! Jesus Christ has been born! Let Heaven and Nature sing! May we join the cosmic chorus praising the newborn king!

Light the Christ Candle

Sing-a-long Carol: “Angels We Have Heard on High” Words and Music: Traditional French carol; Arranged and performed by Nathan Drake (Reawakened Hymns).

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

How is it with your soul? Check in with God however your spirit and body wish. It’s okay, too, just to say “Hi!” to God. God’s delighted you are here.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting with God silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

It is a grace just to be alive. God called us into life just as God called Jesus into life. On this First Sunday of Christmas receive the essential blessing of being called into life. Amen.

Pop-up Praise Pageant

(LTP translation of Psalm 148 adapted by K Schreiber)

Creation Solidarity

With what form/s of creation – cosmic or earthly, plant or animal – would you like to praise God? What human groups do you belong to? Look though the psalm below and see what excites you. Please praise God with as many beings as you wish! If you’ve prepared costume or props, that’s great. Also use your body. How might different beings praise God? Have fun!

“Cosmic Celebration of the Christ’s Birth”

ALL: “We praise God! Hallelujah! Christ is born! Praise the Lord!”

Angels: “Across the heavens, from the heights, all of us angels, we heavenly beings, we sing praises, we sing praises!” (sing chorus of “Angels We Have Heard on High”) “Gloria in excelsis deo.”

Beings in the Sky:

“We are the sun and moon. We sing praise!” (praise movements and sounds)

“We are the glittering stars. We sing praise!” (praise movements and sounds)

“We are the highest heavens. We sing praise!” (praise movements and sounds)

“We are therain clouds.We sing praise!” (praise movements and sounds)

All Beings in the Sky, together: “We praise God’s name, whose word called us forth and fixed us in place forever by eternal decree.

ALL: “We praise God! Hallelujah! Christ is born! Praise the Lord!”

Beings from the Deep:

“We praise God from the depths of the earth!” (praise movements and sounds)

“We praise God from the depths of the ocean!” (praise movements and sounds)

ALL: “We praise God! Hallelujah! Christ is born! Praise the Lord!”

All Manner of Beings:

Fire and Hail… (praise movements and sounds)

Snow and Midst… (praise movements and sounds)

Storms and Winds… (praise movements and sounds)

Mountains and Hills… (praise movements and sounds)

Fruit Trees and Cedar Trees… (praise movements and sounds)

Wild Beasts and Tame… (praise movements and sounds)

Snakes and Birds… (praise movements and sounds)

ALL: “We praise God! Hallelujah! Christ is born! Praise the Lord!”

All Manner of People:

Princes, Princesses and Judges… (praise movements and sounds)

Elected Officials and Voters… (praise movements and sounds)

Men and Women… (praise movements and sounds)

Old and Young… (praise movements and sounds)

All Manner of People, together: “We praise, praise, the Holy Name, this name beyond all names!

ALL: “We praise God! Hallelujah! Christ is born! Praise the Lord!”

One: God’s splendor above the earth, above the heavens, gives strength to the nation, glory to the faithful, a people close to the Lord — let there be praise!

ALL: “We praise God! Hallelujah! Christ is born! Praise the Lord! Amen!”

Special Music “Jesus, Jesus, What a Wonderful Child” Traditional African-American;Performed by the Good Counsel High School Choirs

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Lift up prayers of joy and concern

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine being together with your favorite worship community

We Give Thanks

Offering

Praise is the original offering. Especially now that we cannot “pass the plate” – what a prefect time to reorient the weekly offering as a time of praise? Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Sing-a-long Carol: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” Words: C Wesley, Music: F Mendelssohn, Chalice #150; Performed by Bach Choir and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Benediction

No matter the day of the year, no matter the condition of our hearts, every day is a celebration day when Christ appears. Let us hold onto hope and faith, love and wonder. Let us go forth with peace. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: December 26, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local nonprofit that supports the health and wellbeing of the natural world. If you would like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“Rejoice! Singing New Songs” • Psalm 96:1-3, 7-13 • Christmas Day Rejoicing • Devotional for In-Home or Remote Group Use

Image: screen shot from David Wesley’s (ICU nurse) first virtual choir May 2020

Content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, (c) 2020

Worship Note

This devotional is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this devotional to assemble items needed.
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence. If you have an Advent Wreath use it, too.
  • Cue up the music videos before-hand and add your favorites, too!
  • Invite any being who wishes to join in to offer songs of praise to the newborn Christ.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Jesus’s Birth” Nativity scene; Where Christ will be born this year

Devotional

Please adapt to make this devotion fit your household.

Invocation

On this Christmas Day we rejoice! Around the world, throughout all species, no matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter whom we are with or whom we are missing… our souls join in a singing celebration as we rejoice in the birth of Christ – holy presence dwelling in mortal flesh!

Christ has come to set the earth alright, restoring the world to order! Let us rejoice! Let us all rejoice together! Amen.

Lighting the Christ Candle

If you have a household Advent Wreath light the four Advent Candles AND the Christ Candle.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 96:1-3, 7-13 (LTP)

Read out loud or sing using any tune that comes to mind.

A new song for the Lord! Sing it and bless God’s name, everyone, everywhere! Tell the whole world God’s triumph day to day, God’s glory, God’s wonder.

Proclaim the Lord, you nations, praise the glory of God’s power, praise the glory of God’s name! Bring gifts to the temple, bow down, all the earth, tremble in God’s holy presence. Tell the nations, “The Lord rules!”

As the firm earth is not swayed, nothing can sway God’s judgement. Let heaven and earth be glad, the sea and the sea creatures roar, the field and its beasts exult.

Then let the trees of the forest sing before the coming of the Lord, who comes to judge the nations, to set the earth alright, restoring the world to order.

Rejoice: Singing New Songs!

Sing along, dance! Enjoy these lively recordings and your upbeat favorite carols.

“Little Drummer Boy” Written by K K Davis; African Tribal Version arranged by A Boye; performed by Alex Boye and Genesis Choir.

“Angels We Have Heard On High” Traditional French carol; arranged by David Wesley; Performed by Virtual Choir #9 — 233 singers and ASL interpreters from 43 countries.

“Carol of the Bells” Original “Ukrainian Carol” written by M Leontovych; arranged and performed by Jennifer Thomas; orchestrations by Glen Gabriel; choral arrangements by Sheila Bateman.

Christmas Blessing

There have always been “different” Christmases – years when our holiday dreams fade, when we cannot celebrate as we wish. The one who was born in a barn because there was no room in the inn reminds us that these are the very years when God is especially close. Let us be open to the miracle of Christmas anew.

May our minds open to receive newborn vision.

May our hearts open to receive newborn hope.

May our souls open to receive newborn faith.

May our communities open to receive newborn blessings.

Merry Christmas! God bless you! Amen.

(the devotion is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: December 22, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting any non-profit with a donation or word of gratitude. If you would like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“Rejoice! Newborn Hope” • Isaiah 9:2-7 and Luke 2:1-20 • Christmas Eve Celebration with Advent Wreath Readings & Holy Communion • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: unknown source

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Note: No “Out of the Bag” message has been prepared for Christmas Eve, but one for Christmas Day may be posted. Please check “Kathryn Schreiber” YouTube channel.

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand and assemble items needed.
  • Assemble Advent Wreath, Christ Candle, and candles to represent distant loved ones.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Additional candles may be lit at the close of the service.
  • Assemble household Communion elements – “wine/juice” and “bread”.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • If using a couple of readers, please practice beforehand.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence on Christmas. White is the traditional liturgical color, but any joyful decoration is appropriate.

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

The Light Anticipated

Call to Worship/Advent Candle-Lighting (for one or multiple readers)

The Prophet Isaiah, speaking God’s words, said: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”

We join the long march of people traveling out of darkness into light. We gather with citizens of heaven and earth joyfully awaiting the arrival of The Great Light. The Light of Christ approaches! Rejoice! Amen.

Lighting the Four Candles of Advent

(Light the Advent Candles lit last Sunday. Do not light the new Christ Candle yet. It will be lit in the next section of the service.)

Candle Lighting Song “O Come All Ye Faithful” Words, Music: J F Wade; Tune: ADESTE FIDELES (Chalice #148); Performed by Martina McBride

The Light Born

Jesus Christ was born about two thousand and twenty years ago during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Caesar Augustus decreed that all residents of the Roman Empire should be registered. So Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary of Nazareth, went to Bethlehem – the royal city founded by King David. While in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger. The child was born in a stable because there was no place for them in the inn. (from Luke 2:1-7)

Rejoice! A child has been born for us! Rejoice! God’s son is given to us! Rejoice! The Light of Christ is here! Amen.

Lighting the Christ Candle

(Light the Christ Candle)

Carol: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” Words by P Brooks, Music by LH Redner (Chalice #144); Performed by the Gaither Vocal Band

The Light Announced

Beyond the city of Bethlehem shepherds were grazing their flocks carefully watching over them throughout the night. A heavenly light appeared – an angel glowing with the glory of God. The shepherds where were terrified! The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people. Today in the city of David, the Messiah – humanity’s savior – is born. Go to Bethlehem and look for a child wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in a manger.” A host of heavenly beings joined the angel. They praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!” (from Luke 2:8-14)

Carol: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” Words: E H Sears, Tune: CAROL (Chalice #153); Performed by Maranatha! Christmas 

The Light Witnessed

After the angels left, the shepherds quickly went to Bethlehem where they found Mary and Joseph. Their newborn baby was wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. The shepherds told the new parents everything the angels had said. Everyone who heard the shepherds speak was astonished, except for Mary. She treasured these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned to the fields, rejoicing. They glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen – just as the angel had described. (from Luke 2:15-20)

“The First Noel” Music: Traditional English melody (Chalice #151); Performed by Danny Wright

The Light Proclaimed

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV, adapted)

The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation, O Lord, You have increased its joy; they rejoice before You as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.  For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, You have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors, and all the garments rolled in blood, shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us. 

Authority rests upon his shoulders and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Parent, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

The Light Embodied

Reflection “Christ is Being Born”

Every year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Every year. Our annual celebration is not a birthday party or a remembrance of a person of significance – nor is it a Christianized version of older cultural winter festivals. Spiritually, Jesus Christ’s birthday celebration – Christmas – is a time to be open, again for the first time,* to God’s presence on earth in Christ.

What happened a couple thousand years ago in the Middle East in a very particular place, among a very particular group of people, in a very particular way continues to grow more diverse in location, culture, and expression. Christ is being reborn all the time. During Christmas we pause not only to celebrate what God has done – but what is God is doing.

Where is Christ being born now? What spiritually dim places are being illuminated with God’s glory? What plundered peoples are hoping for a joyful harvest? Who has been released from confining shackles? Whose war boots and blooded clothing have been burnt to welcome a new era of peace? Who speaks justice with righteousness leading us forward?

Where is Christ reborn this night? To whom are the angels announcing this wonder? Who has left their job to search for the being-born Christ? Who is filled with such wonder and joy moved by God’s faithfulness?

The Eternal Christ is always being born. Christ is right here. Christ is in each one of us. Christ is everywhere. The Great Light is here. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Special Music

Do you have a video of a previous Christmas Eve anthem in your sanctuary – playing it this year will be a blessing. If you don’t have such, look for a recording of “Give Him Your Heart”Words: Christina Rossetti; Arrangement:Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. It is a beautiful, inspirational piece.

The Light Petitioned

Prayers of Petition

Christmas Eve is a very special time to pray. The cosmos pulses with Christian adoration of God. We are connected to one another through the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine being in your favorite holy place with your loved ones. May your soul fill with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Light Honored

Offering

Christina Rossetti’s beautiful poem “A Christmas Carol” became the beloved carol “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Set in cold, snowy England, the poem captures a genuine moment of adoration of the infant Jesus Christ. Amid harsh conditions, a poor person offers the holy babe their heart. This Christmas, let us again offer our hearts to Jesus Christ. (also see donation footnote)

The Light Received

Invitation to Holy Communion

Though we are staying safe and apart, through the Holy Spirit we can share this meal intentionally, emotionally, and spiritually. Speak the names of those who are not physically present, but with whom you wish to share this meal. (Say names out loud.)

Consecration of Elements

Place your hands on the cup and the bread. Let us pray:

“Eternally being born Christ, may we receive you again this Christmas Eve. Fill this cup and loaf with Your presence. Amen.”

Silent Prayer

Sit with God in the silence of eternal contact. This may be a time of humble confession and earnest hope. Allow your soul to guide you in this silent prayer as you prepare for Holy Communion. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen” with gratitude in your heart.

God’s Grace 

No greater gift has ever been given – the presence of God in Jesus of Nazareth. May the wonder and majesty of this wondrous Christmas present bless our souls. Amen.

Sharing the Elements

Jesus lifted up the loaf, gave thanks to God, broke it, and said: “Take, eat. This is my Body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

In this world of genuine hungers, may we receive Christ’s body given for us. (eat bread)

After super, Jesus lifted up the cup, gave thanks to God, and offered it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

In this world of genuine suffering, may we receive Christ’s forgiveness of sins. (drink from cup)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Beloved God, giver of every good and perfect gift, on this Christmas Eve may we receive all that You have given us, and are giving us, through Jesus Christ. While we are grateful for Your providence and care, most of all we are thankful for Your wondrous love. May the blessing of this Holy Communion ripple out, touching others with Your Big Love. Amen.

Special Music: “O Holy Night” Music by A. Adam, arr. J. Rutter; Performed by Kings College Choir; Broadcast in the UK on Christmas Eve 2017.

The Light Shared

Often on Christmas Eve a live flame is passed from candle to candle as worshippers sing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” This year we will use our spiritual imaginations to gather with absent loved ones and pass the Light of Christ. Who do you really miss this Christmas, living or dead? Gaze upon photos or mementos of your distanced loved ones; write down their names. While singing, move the live flame from your new Christ Candle to the unlit candles.

“Silent Night, Holy Night” Words: J Mohr; Music: F Gruber; Performed by the Bach Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Chalice #145)

Benediction

The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”

The Light of Christ shines upon everyone.

The Light of Christ shines forth from every being.

The Light of Christ shines throughout eternity.

Merry Christmas! Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Notes:

*“Again for the first time”: Marcus Borg’s Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, was one of a handful of ground-breaking books that encouraging historical study of Jesus of Nazareth as a means to Christian faith development.

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, including narrative from St Luke’s gospel, unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: December 21, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting your church or a religious institution you respect. This has been a rough year for all non-profits. Your support, fiscal and emotional, means the world to those who serve God. Thank you! If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“Restore Us to Justice” • Luke 1:46b-55 • 4 Advent with Advent Wreath Reading • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

“Market Day” by Betty LaDuke (c) 2002

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2020

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • During Advent only Advent Candles are lit, not the Christ Candle.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle that will remain unlit until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. Or, a single candle can be lit each week of Advent. (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. Purple is the traditional color of the season of Advent.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Christmas Wishes”

Santa and St Mary – Our Wish Lists and God’s Wish List

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship (for one or multiple readers)

Today, we light all four Advent Candles with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Pregnant with the Hope of the World – the Messiah.

Mary sings of a God who scatters the thoughts of The Proud.

Mary sings of a God who brings down The Powerful.

Mary sings of a God who lifts up The Lowly.

Mary sings of a God who feeds The Hungry.

Mary sings of a God who questions The Rich.

May we share Mary’s belief in God’s eternal faithfulness, perpetual mercy, commitment to justice, and ongoing compassion. Let us rejoice! The rebirth of Christ is near! Amen.

Light the Fourth Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the three candles lit the last three weeks plus a fourth one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week it is the “Fourth Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve.)

Candle Lighting Song “The Wexford Carol”

Traditional carol performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

This is your time to check in with God. Speak candidly telling God about your week. Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. As Christmas nears, challenging situations or emotions may dampen your “holiday spirit.” That’s okay. God welcomes you just as you are. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tear, heartache or swelling of gratitude.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place small items around the Advent Wreath to symbolize your prayers or write them on pieces of paper and leave them in a “prayer bowl.” Don’t worry if you do not have clarity about what’s troubling you. Your soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting with God silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Beloved One” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Jesus’s parents lived in a world filled with extreme difficulties. The laws of God given to the Hebrew people through Moses were often broken. In some cases, survival depended upon it. Mary – Jesus’ mother – believed that despite the vast failings of her people, God still intended to send a Messiah, the Incarnate One, to liberate humanity. Mary knew this child forming in her body was God’s sacred gift to us.

Mary had exceptional trust in God’s desire to offer unearned redemption to the Beloved Community. She knew God was sending a Messiah because such mercy and grace sprang from God’s essential nature. May this deep knowing of God’s true intentions and the innate belovedness of all beings bless you this day. Amen.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:46b-55 (NRSV, adapted)

We join Mary praising God’s Dream for Humanity

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

God’s mercy is for those who revere God from generation to generation. God has shown strength of arm; Scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. Bringing down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

God has helped the servant nation, in remembrance of divine mercy, according to the promise God made to our ancestors, to Abraham and Sarah, and their descendants forever.”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Reflection

This year, around the globe, everyone stands in Mary’s shoes. We know exactly what it is like to live in a world where dangerous powers control our fate. Mary knew horrible things can happen to very good people. Mary also understood that ordinary people may do terrible things when pushed into a corner. She knew the fatal wrath of foreign leaders who believed “her kind” to be less than human. And yet, she also knew God’s eternal gloriousness. Her faith was not based upon what had transpired in the human realm during her lifetime. Her faith was based upon what had transpired throughout the cosmos since the beginning of time and would exist throughout eternity. For Jesus’s mother, God could do nothing less than to continually reach out to save humanity.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a mystic and a prophetess. Through her soul, she knew who/what/how God is. In so knowing God, she believed that God could do nothing out of keeping with God’s character. The God who had brought her people out of slavery in Egypt, the God who had given these people a law and a land, was the same God who would never give up on them. God was sending a Messiah to save the people.

This fourth week of Advent is a very good time to honor both what our eyes can see – the genuine blessings in our lives as well as the real suffering, too. To name the daily graces we had taken for granted and to also name the undeniable injustices in our nation and the unfathomable losses around the world due to the pandemic – and to perceive God’s immutable holiness. God is the radiant, primordial source of all being that forever desires the well-being of all that is. God’s only impulse is the wholeness of all creation.

May St. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, be close to us this week. May she speak to us of God’s Dream for humanity. May we feel the uplifting of our souls as we recall God’s faithfulness. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Special Music “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas”

Written by Ben Raleigh and James W. Alexander, performed by Lou Rawls

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, whenever we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers with words, sounds, movement, tears, or silence. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a firm believer that God desired just distribution of power and resources throughout the human community. When her son shared these same ideas, Mary affirmed them knowing they were from God.

God is still broadcasting a vision of humanity where everyone, everyone, has their basic needs met well. God is still speaking to us. May we honestly examine what we have and what we need and consider the same for others? God wishes for everyone to be safe, happy, and well. Everyone. Isn’t that VERY Good News? (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope “What Child is This?”

Words: WC Dix, Tune: GREENSLEEVES (Chalice #162); video produced by SE Samonte

Benediction

Our souls magnify the Lord! Our spirits rejoice in the God who saves us! God is still doing great things! Holy is God’s name! The One who made promises to our ancestors, and to our descendants, keeps those promises through the Eternal Christ soon to be reborn among us! Hallelujah! Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: December 17, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local foodbank at this time of extreme need. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“Restore Us to Abundance” • Psalm 126 • 3 Advent with Advent Wreath Reading • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: David Lazar

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • During Advent only Advent Candles are lit, not the Christ Candle.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle that will remain unlit until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. Or, a single candle can be lit each week of Advent. (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. Purple is the traditional color of the season of Advent.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Remembering God’s Abundance”

3nd Sunday of Advent: Remembering the Good Times

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

Once upon a time we were free to sing and dance – together! Remember when our arms and bellies were so very full and we didn’t even realize how blessed we were?

Once upon a time we were free to work side by side! Remember when we planted the seeds of service and prayer sweating together in good labor and singing together in the pews?

God will bring us back and bring us back better. Our tears will dry up. We will laugh and rejoice!

As we light the Third Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “Lord, bring us back as water to a thirsty land. Those sowing in tears reap, singing, and laughing.” Amen.

Light the Third Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the two you lit last week plus a third one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week the candle is the “Third Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song

“People, Look East” https://youtu.be/F8GNlRcBdvs

Lyrics: E Farjeon, Music: traditional French carol BESANCON (Chalice #142); unknown performer

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

This is your time to check in with God. Speak as candidly as you can. Tell God about your week. Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tear, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you however you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place small items around the Advent Wreath to symbolize your prayers or write them on pieces of paper and leave them in a “prayer bowl.” Don’t worry how you release your concerns to God. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting with God silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Friend, Friend, Friend Jesus” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

It is the human condition to know times of ease and times of challenge as individuals and as a nation. Even nature tells us life unfolds in cycles. At this time of year the darkness far exceeds light every 24-hours. This condition, however, doesn’t remain, does it? So it is with cycles in our shared human communities.

God’s grace is like the sun – always shining the same – day in and day out. We may experience God’s differently moment by moment, emotional season by emotional season, but it never changes. Let us take assurance in God’s eternal faithfulness however we experience God’s grace today. Amen.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Psalm 126 (LTP)

A dream come true: Home to Zion after years of bitter captivity. Laughter, dance and song. A song of ascents.

The Lord brings us back to Zion, we are like dancers, laughing, dancing, with songs on our lips. Other nations say, “A new world of wonders! The Lord is with them.” Yes, God works wonders. Rejoice! Be glad!

Lord, bring us back as water to a thirsty land. Those sowing in tears reap, singing, and laughing. They left weeping, weeping, casting the seed. They come back singing, singing, holding high the harvest.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Reflection

See this week’s “Out of the Bag” recording at the beginning of this document. Also, consider using Christmas ornaments to remember the good times that followed the bad times. This Sunday of Advent we remember God’s faithfulness.

Special Music

Please select a Christmas song with a message of comfort – honoring what has been while being excited about what is to come, grateful for God’s faithfulness.

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, whenever we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers with words, sounds, movement, tears, or silence. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

During these longer nights, during these times of limited human interaction and general physical mobility, we have more time to think. Most of us have a natural default somewhere along the spectrum of optimist and pessimist. But all of us need hope – especially during unique times like this.

May we remember God is the source of our hope. God is calling us to hang on and keep taking this journey one day at time. God is taking us where we need to go. Let us thank God who is with us, God who guides us, God who will rejoice with us when we are on the other side of this pandemic. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

Please select a favorite Christmas carol to sing joyfully.

Benediction

Seed-casting dancers – a new harvest is coming.

Weeping planters – God has yet more wonders to bestow.

Rejoice! Be glad! Christ really will be reborn among us! Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 29, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local foodbank at this time of extreme need. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

“Restore Us to Goodness” • Psalm 85:9-14 • 2 Advent with Advent Wreath Reading • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: unknown source, example of kintsukuroi

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • During Advent only Advent Candles are lit, not the Christ Candle.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle that will remain unlit until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. Or, a single candle can be lit each week of Advent. (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. Purple is the traditional color of the season of Advent.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Help us be Good”

2nd Sunday of Advent: Repairing what’s been broken

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Advent Candle Reading/Call to Worship

On this Second Sunday of Advent the God of Liberation assures us the intangible will become real taking on flesh and blood, dwelling among us.

God says, “Look for love and fidelity embracing; witness peace and justice sharing a tender kiss. What is truly good will sprout up from the earth and lean down from heaven to restore humanity.”

May we pivot our hearts toward God’s peace expecting divine glory to spread across the land where uncivil wars now divide us.

As we light the Second Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “The Lord pours out riches, our land springs to life. Justice clears God’s path, justice points the way.” Amen.

Light the Second Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the one you lit last week plus a second one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week the candle is the “Second Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song 

“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” https://youtu.be/vRAFQCOkjgE

Lyrics: C Wesley; Music: RH Prichard HYFRYDOL (Chalice #125); Performed by Red Mountain Music

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

This is your time to check in with God. Speak as candidly as you can. Tell God about your week. Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tear, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you however you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place small items around the Advent Wreath to symbolize your prayers or write them on pieces of paper and leave them in a “prayer bowl.” Don’t worry how you release your concerns to God. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting with God silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Friend, Friend, Friend Jesus” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

God is still speaking, still calling humanity to salvation as a species. God wants all of us to survive and thrive. This second week of Advent may we hear God’s liberating voice speak louder than any messages that diminish our dignity or cause us to disregard others. God is still speaking Big Love and Big Peace to all of us. What a grace!

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Psalm 85: 9-14 (LTP)

I listen to God speaking: “I, the Lord, speak peace, peace to My faithful people who turn their hearts to Me.”

Salvation is coming near, glory is filling our land. Love and fidelity embrace, peace and justice kiss. Fidelity sprouts from the earth, justice leans down from heaven.

The Lord pours out riches, Our land springs to life. Justice clears God’s path, Justice points the way.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Reflection

See this week’s “Out of the Bag” recording at the beginning of this document.

Special Music

Please select a Christmas song with a message of hope for the uplift of all humanity, such as “Grown Up Christmas List” lyrics: L Thompson-Jenner, music: David Foster.

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, whenever we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers with words, sounds, movement, tears, or silence. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

Take a moment to pause and honor an example of the best of humanity rising up in a challenging situation. Where is God’s Big Love performing acts of healing and restoration? When has God brought unexpected repair among your household? With genuine thanksgiving, offer praise to God. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

Please select a favorite Christmas carol to sing hopefully.

Benediction

May we hear God speak peace. May we believe in the good things coming. May we witness integrity rising up from earth and leaning down from heaven. May we travel the path of justice. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 30, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local foodbank at this time of extreme need. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”